Talk about a rough start for a new team. The San Francisco Bulls opened up their inaugural franchise season as a part of the ECHL at home at the Cow Palace back on Oct. 12. After hosting one more game the next day, the Bulls were then sent out on a nine-game, near month long road trip.
Needless to say, the epic roadie wasn’t very kind to the Bulls, as San Francisco went just a 1-6-2. Fortunately, the very last game of the trip marked the beginning of the Theo Peckham era.
Peckham, a veteran NHL defenseman with the Edmonton Oilers signed with the Bulls as the NHL lockout has dragged on. While San Francisco dropped the road trip finale 3-1, the defense has improved remarkably with Peckham’s presence these last two games. And back at home on Friday night, Peckham helped the Bulls deliver their strongest performance to date.
Despite taking on the best team in the ECHL’s Western conference (in winning percentage) in the Stockton Thunder, the Bulls earned their third win of the season in convincing fashion Friday. Strong defense and netminding was the name of the game until the Bulls broke out in the third with three goals, one each by Dean Quellet, Kevin Baker, and Jordan Morrison.
The Bulls were certainly in need of the offensive outburst, but as the saying goes, defense wins championships, and the San Francisco blue-liners looked as strong as they have at any point this season. Combine that strong defense with a solid performance from Sharks goaltending prospect Thomas Heemskerk who stopped 31 of the 32 shots thrown his way) and you have the back-bone of an all-around sturdy performance from the Bulls.
Speaking of Sharks prospects, the one player to keep an eye on for you NHL fans (those who have yet to throw in the towel) is Bulls defenseman Sacha Guimond.
The 6’2″ 185 pound, 21-year-old French-Canadien defenseman is the youngest player on the Bulls roster and leads the defense in scoring with six points in 12 games. His 5-on-3 bomb of a slap shot from the right point tied the score at 1-1 on Friday. While Guimond isn’t currently affiliated with an NHL club, that certainly didn’t to stop head coach Pat Curcio from dishing out NHL-caliber praise for his young defender.
“He’s a player I’m sure is on the radar of NHL teams” commented the head coach. “Incredible skill and vision, as he gets stronger and learns more about the game, I don’t know how much longer he’ll be in this league. He’s a special player.”
Guimond and the rest of the Bulls defense are certainly picking up lots of helpful tips from the aforementioned Peckham. The Oilers defenseman picked the Bulls due to a childhood connection with Curcio and the head coach definitely isn’t taking the NHL presence for granted. The coach noted just how invaluable the presence of Theo and Sharks forward Ryane Clowe is for the group of young players.
“He [Theo] is unbelievable on the ice and off the ice. What he brings in the dressing room and what he brings to the team, it’s invaluable. I think having both NHL guys here, everything rubs off.”
Clowe didn’t play but was behind the bench for the Bulls and talked with the media afterward noting an interest in getting into the management side of the game whenever he decides to hang up the skates.
The Bulls will now try to keep the momentum going from their big win over the Thunder as they host former Shark Devin Setoguchi and the Ontario Reign Saturday.
It sounds as if Clowe will yet again stay off the ice but playing against his old pal Setoguchi might be too much to pass up.
Back from injury, Bulls forward Chris Lawrence chipped in three assists and now has five points in four games with San Francisco.
San Francisco Giants closer Sergio Romo dropped the ceremonial first puck donning a bright orange Bulls Jersey.